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Controlling DC Lego motors with an old Blackberry?

WillDaBeast509

Dec 10, 2013
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First off, this is my first project of this type. I'm adept at programming on multiple platforms but have never attempted something with hardware and wiring; excuse any gaps in knowledge.

So, I have an old Blackberry Torch lying around I'd like to put to use with some Lego motors. From what I can tell, the motors have two pins; put a voltage on one and it spins one way, put a voltage on the other and it spins the opposite way. I'm sure I could splice the Blackberry's charging cable (a standard micro-USB I believe) to the motor and figure out how to transfer power from to the phone to it, but the problem lies in that I need to power multiple motors at different times. Is this possible, or do I need a board designed for such purposes? I was thinking of some other external controller that could be connected to the phone via the USB cable and could control individual motors; don't know if anything of the sort exists. I need the Blackberry to control the machine remotely with Bluetooth and for the camera (I also like the idea of repurposing an old phone).

Thanks for any help, and please ask if you need me to clarify something.
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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I'm sure I could splice the Blackberry's charging cable (a standard micro-USB I believe) to the motor and figure out how to transfer power from to the phone to it
I would not be so sure of that. The charging connector is an input to the phone, not an output.

Bob
 

WillDaBeast509

Dec 10, 2013
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I would not be so sure of that. The charging connector is an input to the phone, not an output.

Bob

If I remember back to my physics class correctly, the motor should draw current from the phone when they're connected since the phone has a charge and the motor doesn't (higher electric potential). Could be very wrong about that though.

For the sake of argument, let's say it would work. Is there any way the phone could selectively power individual motors? I wouldn't think so because the charging port is one output, but its worth a shot.
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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I don't think so, but I have been known to be wrong once in a while. The charge port is most likely connected to a charge controller IC, not directly to the battery. And there would be no way for you to turn it on and off from the phone anyway, so you could not control even one motor with it.

Bob
 

WillDaBeast509

Dec 10, 2013
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I don't think so, but I have been known to be wrong once in a while. The charge port is most likely connected to a charge controller IC, not directly to the battery. And there would be no way for you to turn it on and off from the phone anyway, so you could not control even one motor with it.

Bob
That's true hadn't thought about the fact that the phone couldn't control the current flow to the motor.

My next resort then, is there any sort of microcontroller that could be plugged into the BlackBerry (via a usb cable) and given commands from it? Something with multiple outputs and the ability to take commands from the phone would work. Anybody know of anything like this?
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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Yes, it is doable, but not something for a beginner.

Bob
 

WillDaBeast509

Dec 10, 2013
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Yes, it is doable, but not something for a beginner.

Bob

Fair enough; I'll try to tackle some simpler projects. While I have your attention, though, do you have anything in mind that fits what I'm looking for?
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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Does it have to be a phone? A laptop or desktop computer would be easier. There are boards available for about $20 that plug into USB and allow you to control a number of inputs and outputs to the real world. There might be something similar for a phone, but I do not know about it.

Bob
 

WillDaBeast509

Dec 10, 2013
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Does it have to be a phone? A laptop or desktop computer would be easier. There are boards available for about $20 that plug into USB and allow you to control a number of inputs and outputs to the real world. There might be something similar for a phone, but I do not know about it.

Bob

If I can get my hands on something that connects with USB, I could probably port the software to a mobile platform (now we're back in my comfort zone). I'll look into that. Thanks a lot for your help.
 

BobK

Jan 5, 2010
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The problem is that phones are not USB hosts. The boards would expect a host.

Bob
 
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